Classroom staff doesn't reflect the student body

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

The Isle of Wight County public school division has a racial disparity within its teaching workforce that it is finding difficult to overcome.

Currently, the division’s teacher demographic is 89 percent white, and 10 percent black, with 1 percent identifying as “other,” as compared to the overall county population, which is 73 percent white and 23 percent black and the remaining 4 percent falling under Asian, Hispanic or two or more races.

Residents have taken notice.

A foundation dedicated to supporting black teachers has arisen in Isle of Wight to combat what appears to be both a local and national shortage of minority teachers in the workforce, as neighboring school divisions appear to be struggling with teacher diversity as well. Surry County Public Schools, however, is seemingly bucking the trend and finding a balance. 

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Human trafficking focus of their study

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

For the past five years, Virginia has consistently been listed among the top 15 states with the most reported cases of human trafficking, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

And the Hampton Roads region is one of the more prominent areas for the crime.

In a colored map developed by the Hotline pinpointing locations with the majority of calls or emails relating to reports of human trafficking in 2016, Hampton Roads blazes red.

A class at Smithfield High School took notice of the prevalence this semester, working to raise awareness and draft legislation on the topic. 

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By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Downtown Smithfield residents and businesses that do not currently have natural gas but want it are urged to explore its availability while Columbia Gas is replacing the lines along Main Street, beginning this week.

The call for new customers came recently during a briefing on the project, hosted by Smithfield 2020.

Columbia Gas is expected to begin replacing lines at Cockes Lane and moving down to Institute Street this week. The $755,000 project is expected to be completed in March, but will require block-by-block street closures along Main Street.

The replacement project is divided into three phases and will take about 10 weeks, said Adam Halpert, field engineer with Columbia Gas.

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By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Smithfield has long been known for its ham, but over the years it has also quietly built on a tradition in the arts.

Music, drama, visual art and more can be enjoyed regularly in Isle of Wight — a county also prized for its rural atmosphere.

Along with the many venues that have developed — some old, some new — is a legion of supporters who provide the audience and funding needed to keep the arts alive and vibrant.

The Smithfield Times is launching a series of features on each of Isle of Wight’s arts venues — the Arts Center @ 319, the Summer Concert Series, the Smithfield Little Theatre, Sundays at Four, Smithfield Music, Smithfield’s public art displays, the monthly bluegrass concerts at the Carrollton Volunteer Fire Department, the summer concerts in Windsor, the Isle of Wight Writer’s Group and several more. 

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School Board approves issuing RFP for school lunch providers

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

The Isle of Wight County school division is considering outsourcing its food services.

The School Board voted to give administration staff the go-ahead to begin developing a request-for-proposals at its meeting Thursday, after Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton said that the division’s in-house food service has been struggling to maintain a surplus.

“We have lost money in the last four to five years in the food service,” Thornton said.

Outsourcing could cut down costs and increase the quality of school meals, according to Thornton. 

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By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

A stranger walked into New Bethany Christian Church UCC a week before Christmas.

He handed a Christmas card to pastor Douglas Jones, said he appreciated the work the church was doing and left.

Pastor Douglas Jones opened the card and found a check for $5,000. 

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No one injured in Smithfield Heights

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Three men were arrested last week in connection with a nearly high noon shoot-out in the Smithfield Heights neighborhood.

One neighbor said she saw two men running down the street in front of her house shooting and chasing another person — one firing from a gun in each hand.

There were no reports of injuries and three 9mm handguns were recovered, according to Lt. James Pope with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office.

There were reports of bullets causing damage to property, Pope said.

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By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

SURRY—Some increased by a few dollars. Some more than doubled. Some still haven’t arrived.

Reactions to the first sewer bill from the Hampton Roads Sanitation District in the town of Surry have been trickling in, and, so far, have been a mixed bag.

After months of debate and negotiation, the town of Surry deeded over its wastewater systems to HRSD in October, bowing to pressure from the county and surrounding businesses.

For one resident of Church Street, the bill she received was for the past 45 days, and was only $6 more than her previous bills, which had been for 30 days. 

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By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Beginning next year, Isle of Wight County residents who want to see what’s going on — from the government’s point of view — need look no further than “Isle Cares.”

“Isle Cares” is to replace the former “Voices from the Isle,” which came online in 2015.

The “Isle Cares” website is separate from the official county website and can be found at www.islecares.com

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Edna Felts Myers

 

Edna Felts Myers, 96, passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015 in her home. She is preceded in death by her husband, Luther Power Myers. Edna leaves to cherish her memories her son, Robert Hall. A graveside service will be held Friday, Aug. 7, 11 a.m. in St. Luke’s Memorial Park with the Rev. Mike Frank officiating. A special thank you to Marilyn Oliver and Joe Brown for all their love and support. The family request memorial contributions to VFW POST 8545, PO Box 461, Smithfield, VA 23431.

Service arrangements are in the care of Colonial Funeral Home, Carrollton, Smithfield, Isle of Wight and the surrounding communities.  Family and friends are encouraged to share condolences and remembrances at colonialfuneralhomesmithfield.com.

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